Mr. Gimmick is a Famicom/NES game by Sunsoft that was only released in Japan and Scandinavia. The game was supposedly scheduled for release worldwide, but was never released outside the aforementioned territories.
Since it was released so late in the FC/NES lifespan, the game sold poorly. The Japanese release is a bit more common, but the Scandinavian release is now considered to be one of the rarest and most expensive SCN region games released, and is sought after by collectors. It has a cult following these days due to its great gameplay and technically impressive graphics and soundtrack.
The intro opens with a girl blowing out candles on her birthday. She receives a present which turns out to be Mr. Gimmick, a plush toy doll. She loves him more than any of her other toys. Because of this, the other toys get jealous and kidnap the girl while she sleeps, taking her into the dimension of toys. Now it's up to Mr. Gimmick to save her.
Mr. Gimmick is a pretty standard platformer. You can run and jump around like in any other platformer, but Mr. Gimmick's gimmick is that he can create a star above his head which he can throw at his enemies. This is the only way to kill any enemies in the game. The star has some physics to it as well. It will bounce higher the higher it is dropped from. So if you jump before throwing it, or throw it from a platform, it will bounce higher. Mr. Gimmick can also stand on top of the star as it bounces if he jumps on top of it. This takes some getting used to, but is required to reach some of the hidden items.
The game consists of six regular levels. In these levels, Mr. Gimmick must find a hidden item and travel to the boss at the end. To get the good ending and rescue the girl, Mr. Gimmick must collect the hidden item in every level to make the final, secret level appear, and defeat the last boss within it.. If you miss a hidden item, the game will end after the boss on level 6, and you will get the bad ending.
The game is notoriously hard but not impossible or unfair, like most late Sunsoft games. It is also very short. Once you have learned the game you can beat it in around 30 minutes.
- The Japanese version of the game starts Mr. Gimmick out with 3 lives, while the Scandinavian version starts him out with 7 lives.
- The Japanese release had a special version of the AY-3-8910 sound chip, also used in the Amstrad CPC and Atari ST computers, embedded in the MMC chip to help the regular Famicom sound chip with the music. This sound chip was not embedded in the MMC in the Scandinavian release because the NES does not have pins on the connector for external sound chips, instead having four pins for the lockout chip. Because of this, the Scandinavian version's soundtrack is reworked to only use the internal NES sound chip. As a result, some instruments are missing in some songs, or sometimes sound different than in the Japanese version.
- The Scandinavian release, like most of Sunsoft's PAL releases, is optimized for 50hz. Because of this, the soundtrack does not sound correctly when played on an NTSC NES console. Not just that it runs faster, but the digitized drums and DPCM sounds are especially affected. Since the graphics have also been tweaked for the PAL NES, there are also major graphics glitches when playing on an NTSC NES.
- The game uses a custom mapper chip, the Sunsoft FME-7, which enhances the graphics capabilities of the console. This was included in both the Japanese and Scandinavian release, though the Japanese version includes the AY-3-8910 sound chip embedded as mentioned previously. Having a custom MMC chip was pretty common for Famicom games, but on the NES it was very unusual. Most other third party games that used a custom mapper chip, like Konami's Contra, were reworked for Nintendo's MMC chips when released for NES. This chip, together with the sound chip in the Japanese release, probably added up to make this an expensive game to manufacture.
- Mr. Gimmick is the only game known to be developed by Authentic Entertainment. Some similarities are seen in the Game Boy game Trip World, but the staff credits are not the same.